Corporate-Spun Science Should Not Be Guiding Policy

Internal Monsanto documents reveal a startling campaign to suppress science. Policymakers would be wise to adopt a more precautionary view.

As an invited expert to a European Parliament hearing last month, I joined scientists, regulators and others in what has become a global debate over the activities of the American seed and agrochemical giant, Monsanto, and the “science” surrounding glyphosate, the active ingredient in its popular Roundup herbicide.

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Glyphosate, which Monsanto brought to market in 1974, is the most widely used herbicide in the world, applied on farm fields that grow our food, as well as on parks, playgrounds, golf courses, and lawns and gardens. Residues of the weed killer are commonly found in our food and water. The company and chemical industry allies have long asserted its safety, but many independent scientists disagree.

Given the alarming evidence of scientific deceit now being revealed about Monsanto and glyphosate, it’s clear that deep scrutiny of this type of manipulation is required.

My presentation to parliament members, titled “Decades of Deception,” was not focused on the question of safety, but rather on the corporation’s long-running secretive campaign to manipulate the scientific record, to sway public opinion, and to influence regulatory assessments. The details of the efforts are laid out within internal Monsanto documents obtained through litigation and in the contents of government records made available through public records act requests. Despite all of this, Republicans in Congress — at the behest of the chemical industry — are now threatening U.S. funding for the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which has worked to highlight the potential cancer risks associated with glyphosate.

Internal records show Monsanto executives discussing multiple incidences of drafting and writing research papers that when published would appear to be authored by unbiased sources, a practice the company itself called “ghostwriting.” In one email, a Monsanto scientist suggested “we ghost-write” certain sections of a paper just as they had “handled” an earlier paper supporting glyphosate safety presented to regulators. A different scientist boasted that he “ghost-wrote” a separate paper that also backed glyphosate safety. Both papers were cited by the Environmental Protection Agency in a determination of no cancer connection to glyphosate. The documents show that a collection of papers finding glyphosate safe published in 2016 were also edited and manipulated by Monsanto, though the published versions declared otherwise. Those papers were desired to help influence European regulators, records show.


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The documents also reveal the company writing columns and presentations for academics in support of glyphosate safety that when published bore no mention of Monsanto’s involvement.

The efforts accelerated after a team of top scientists with IARC in March of 2015 reviewed years of independent, published, peer-reviewed literature and said the weight of evidence showed glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen, with a particular link to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The state of California followed up by classifying the chemical as a known carcinogen, and more than 3,000 people have sued Monsanto blaming Roundup for their cancers.

Many other health concerns have emerged in the independent research. One trial from the U.K. found that the chemical contributed to a higher risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Other studies have linked it to kidney disease, and an epidemiology study released on November 9 found an association between glyphosate and acute myeloid leukemia, though that paper found no tie to non-Hodgkin as IARC did.

Adding to the worries, in October the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine published the results of a study that tracked elderly residents in agriculture-rich San Bernardino County. The researchers said human exposure to glyphosate has increased approximately 500 percent since the mid-1990s and mean levels of glyphosate found in the urine of the study subjects increased more than 1,200 percent.

Monsanto and its industry allies have responded by shrugging off the concerns and working to promote the safety of glyphosate and question the findings of IARC, claiming the elite independent scientists were politically motivated and relying on junk science. At the same time the company is suing the state of California seeking to block warning labels on glyphosate products.

But Monsanto declarations of proven glyphosate safety are belied by what we see in the documents. For example, even though Monsanto officials expressed shock and outrage after the IARC classification, before IARC even met, officials wrote of known “vulnerability” in epidemiology and other types of research, and warned colleagues that IARC could classify glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. The company laid out a strategy before IARC met designed to “orchestrate outcry” at the expected classification.

More documents show Monsanto working with certain EPA officials to discourage a separate review of glyphosate by a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services because the company feared “a domestic IARC.”

These tactics are not new, nor are they unique to any one industry. We’ve seen multiple examples over the years of how science can be spun, critics discredited, and evidence of harm suppressed by companies engaged in selling everything from tobacco to Teflon. Protecting corporate profits over public safety is a tried-and-true playbook for many powerful industries. But given the alarming evidence of scientific deceit now being revealed about Monsanto and glyphosate, it’s clear that deep scrutiny of this type of manipulation is required.

The evidence of deception has resonated so strongly across the Atlantic that European Parliament voted October 23 in favor of a five-year phase-out with the chemical fully banned in 2022. But on November 27, the European Union member states backed a five-year re-authorization for the chemical after more than a year of deadlock and a refusal to sign off on a proposed 15-year approval.

U.S. policymakers would be wise to adopt the more precautionary view we see in Europe. Instead of seeking to punish independent experts, they should punish — and work to prevent — corporate manipulation of science. And they should ensure that protection of public health takes precedence over protection of corporate profits.


Carey Gillam is a veteran journalist and author of “Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.” A former senior correspondent for Reuters’ international news service, Gillam is now the research director for the consumer watchdog group U.S. Right to Know.

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58 comments / Join the Discussion

    tihis article outlines what the author has found with Monsanto directly influencing studies.There is a more indirect and powerful way: controlling government itself. I have been in an academic fight with the University of Waterloo who has dIRECT connection with the federal governments of Canada and the United States.I have a letter of apology from theUS Surgeon General ,Dr.Jocelyn Elders (see http://www.cancerfraudbadbiotech.com where it is posted ) ou can see this time period .I had peer review from the Chair of the M.D.Anderson Cancer Center and my research may form the basis of modern cancer research theory : The Cell DEath Signal Gene Theory is now called Programed Cell Death/PCD.The point becomes when I reported the NIH fraud , PM Brian Mulroney was in a deal with Monsanto .I outlined how GMOs and pesticide companies must be held to a very high standard and be FULLY liable for any damage they may cause . See the Mulroney reply that he is AWARE of what is going on at Waterloo.Please note that Mulroney has now been exposed in the Paradise papers for tax evasion etc .ESSENTIALLY Waterloo LIED in writing and with INTENT, and I asked for a RICO investigation . resident Bill Clinton, a friend of Mulroney’s is alleged to have obstructed justice and caused the RICO investigation to be closed down! Bill Clinton receives 1/2 MILLION dollars for speaking engagements .He spoke TWICE at the University of Waterloo .Points to above article , I had peer reviewed research, I proved criminal fraud, aND I brought all of this before ALL the proper authorities .AND it wsa suppressed, justice was obstructed and everything was covered up because the legal authorities can be bought and paid for . Monsanto has a lot of money and a lot of politicians in their pockets. Don’t argue fake arguments with me, just answer two questions . 1 . Is research described in official Ministry of Health documents as being so bad it is SHIT (official documentation ) and 2. Is lying for money fraud? That is what happened at the University of Waterloo .You can see the FBI and RCMP papers on the website . So, is it logical that Monsanto can and does buy politicians and BAD research can promoted when there is evidence proving it is wrong ? The answer from my personal experiences is YES ! E.A.Greenhalgh MSc and HBSc

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    In fairness to Gillam in light of the comments, her article addresses Monsanto’s appalling modus operandi rather than glyphosate’s safety, as she indicates. However, I am concerned about the fact that the IARC deliberately deleted study results contradicting its final conclusion that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen – while citing those very same studies. Earlier drafts of the IARC include the studies’ actual results while the final version does not.

    This is described in the Reuters report https://www.reuters.com/article/us-who-iarc-glyphosate-specialreport/in-glyphosate-review-who-cancer-agency-edited-out-non-carcinogenic-findings-idUSKBN1CO251utm_source=34553&utm_medium=partner

    I look forward to an honest appraisal of this report, without simply accusing Reuters of being a Monsanto lapdog.

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    If you search the internet for SERALINI or PUSZTAI a different face on Monsantoäs own studies appears. The mice studies Monsanto carried out were only 3 months or shorter time, not allowing tumours to develop. Seralinis were much longer, showing tumours. It takes often decades to get cancer eating pesticide sprayed foods daily, which we do.

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    Corporate funded science is generally bad science that has been distorted by the profit motive. This is true of Monsanto, as well as the pharmaceutical industry and big food sponsored studies of nutrition. We need to question who is sponsoring research before it is accepted as scientific “truth.”

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    Absolutely, you are right! Industry funded research peddles the own product downplaying all negatives.
    ONLY RCTs (Random Controlled Studies) by INDEPENDENT researchers must become a minimum requirement for approving pesticides used on crops for human consumption. It is as if the regulators are acting useful idiots for the industry they were meant to regulate. A sham.

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    Poisons—imbibing what is unnatural to our natural bodies is the “wrench in the works.”
    We will find that this is the root cause of most chronic illness, including the deficiencies in our natural and most essential immune system. American business has traded what it so desperately needs (for health) for what it so desperately wants (for wealth). But still, the ignorant consumer is causing their own cancers, while paying the ACS to keep them blind. Why fight cancer when we can terminate the cause? Why?!

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    The quality of scientific thinking in this article, and lots of the comments is amazingly poor. Carey Gillam arguments are so slanted, her conclusions can’t be believed. It’s just awful journalism. It looks more like the logic used in a political speech more than a scientific assessment of the published data on the subject. Journalism is reaching new lows with this kind of crap.

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    I see the Monsanto trolls are right on top of this article. Just ignore them. The independent science is clear: glyphosate is a carcinogen and a known endocrine disruptor. We are poisoning the food chain and the results are obvious: an epidemic of cancer that continues to spiral out of control.

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    Carey Gillam cites a MAJOR independent study from the Agriculture Health Survey, but fails to accurately report the results, which were that glyphosate was not found to be carcinogenic. Shortly before citing that study, she claims that glyphosate causes Non-Hodkin’s Lymphoma, but curiously fails to mention that the AHS directly disproves this very claim. Instead, she over-emphasizes a singular result that was not even statistically significant in a population of tens of thousands of people with the highest exposure.

    You can cry “Monsanto” all day long, but the evidence that Carey Gillam dishonestly reported the science is right there in the article. You demand independent science, but seem completely unawares or willfully intent on ignoring the very strong independent science that directly contradicts claims of carcinogenicity.

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    I would put anything Chad Niederhuth writes or determines since he studied and graduated in a lab where numerous Monsanto employees work, so he is likely on the take as well

    Why are only tinted “scientists” arguing for the safety of glyphosate???

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    You wrote, “did not find Glyphosate to be cancerogenic”. Did you miss the elephant in the report? IARC found it to be “probably cancerogenic”. Are you paid by Monsanto trying to confuse?

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    You are either a pure Troll astroturfing here or just mindless!
    The fact that corporations are allowed to provide their own slanted proof of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides causing “no harm” based on short studies done by their own paid researchers is appalling news for many. That regulators are never commissioning independent studies before approval is mindboggling. Why? If that is the case, why are we not allowed to get our driving license, or PhD, based on a report by a private consultant? This is how poor regulation is today, or what it has been allowed to deteriorate into. It is a sham.

    The worst thing is that medical drugs and food additives all over our western world are “approved” using similarly questionable methods, applicant funded research!

    It would be so much safer if the applicant was given a quotation to have the chemicals researched and evaluated by a 3rd independent party, unknown to the applicant, and given a quotation of the total cost day 1. Then the regulators could regulate! 1/3 payable with the formal application, and the rest on completion on safety and efficacy studies.

    On top of current “own funded studies principles”, the financing corporation usually retain all the rights to the results so that not even participating researchers are allowed to speak about them.
    The “retained rights” mean that only data that the corporation, usually its marketing department, wants to have published are divulged to the regulating body and the public. Unwanted effects can this way constantly be downplayed and the public often exposed to no more than marketing ploys. To work for such corporations unwittingly or as a troll should be beyond all reasonable minds.

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    “Science” is very subjective these days and has always been mixed with plenty of bias, especially when affiliated with profits and professional pride. Much of what is held as science is merely faith, lacking proof—efficacy of vaccines, healing via drugs, ‘theory’ of evolution, global warming, Big Bang ‘theory,’ ad nauseum. You must be new to this research. Many of us have tested it on our own bodies. That’s where my science has been proven.

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    it’s not shocking to see both Mary Mangan and Stephen Neidenbach appear in the comments and then try to dominate the discussion with repetitive postings. One person I am surprised to not see if David Zaruk, their friend and PR operative from Europe, who blogs as The Risk Mongerer.

    To be clear, more documents will be coming out of the ongoing litigation to shed further light on these PR tactics. And despite his claims to the contrary, anyone can Google Neidenbach and see he is about as interested in transparency as James O’Keefe is in uncovering biased journalism.

    The editors of Undark would do well to consider the policy of Popular Science, which stopped allowing comments after reviewing research which found that disinformation proliferates in the comments section. https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/why-were-shutting-our-comments The millions of dollars spent on PR by the biotech industry is trying to obscure, not enlighten.

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    It’s not shocking to see Paul Thacker peddle his conspiracy theory here, he needs to avoid discussing the science and the flaws in Gillam’s book.

    Strangely, Paul is spending a lot of time lately smearing women with his baseless claims that they are all paid off and can’t evaluate the evidence on their own. Just ask the ScienceMoms.

    Paul: is it possible for you to believe that I’m not paid by whoever you claim is paying me? (PS: correct answer is I’m not paid, so you should grasp that fact). Since I’m not paid–would you be able to hear the facts about the science and the omissions in Carey’s book?

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    As a molecular biologist specializing in oncology I can say without hesitation that scientists most assuredly rely on the IARC. We follow the data presented by the IARC. My training was outside of the US where we relied heavily on IARC findings. They’re the recognized experts in the field. IARC histological and molecular classification of tumours is unprecedented. We rely on IARC publications and handbooks of cancer prevention. Our biggest fight is against policymakers. Too often(almost always) they put politics and corporations before our work. Mary has some anger toward the author of the article and is offering a critique of the author and not the content. If you research the info in the article, like I have, you’ll know the article info is correct. The Monsanto Papers are compelling and the public agrees. That said, the article is an important one. It is a tremendously deceitful campaign going against the IARC.

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    What do you say then to the evidence of misconduct at the IARC? https://www.reuters.com/article/us-who-iarc-glyphosate-specialreport/in-glyphosate-review-who-cancer-agency-edited-out-non-carcinogenic-findings-idUSKBN1CO251?utm_source=34553&utm_medium=partner

    What do you say about the response of the EFSA to the IARC’s conclusions? https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/170523-efsa-statement-glyphosate.pdf

    Or the evidence from large cohort studies? https://academic.oup.com/jnci/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djx233/4590280?searchresult=1

    The IARC is no doubt an authority, but they are not the final or only authority. Their conclusions should not be blindly trusted when it is in disagreement with all the other scientific bodies.

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    I would put anything Chad E Niederhuth writes or determines into question since he studied and graduated in a lab where numerous Monsanto employees work, so he is likely on the take as well…

    Why are only tinted “scientists” arguing for the safety of glyphosate???

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    I am an independent plant geneticist and it disappoints me to see a publication that purports to be at the intersection of science and society should publish an article that so misrepresents the science. What we are given here are half-truths and conspiracies, not science.

    Carey Gillam references the IARC and a handful of studies that claim detrimental health effects from the herbicide glyphosate, conveniently leaving out the scientific issues with these, as well the much more robust body of scientific literature and findings that contradicts them. She fails to mention that the IARC classification of glyphosate is one that does not actually measure “risk”. Even more damning, she does not mention that the findings of every independent governmental scientific body involved in the actual assessment of risk has found that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic. Some of these organizations, such as Germany’s BfR or the European Union’s EFSA have directly addressed the claims of IARC (See their public statement here: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/170523-efsa-statement-glyphosate.pdf).

    While Carey Gillam very directly implies that glyphosate causes cancers such as Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, she completely ignores the overwhelming evidence that it does not from multiple studies. One such study, from the Agricultural Health Survey, assessed the incidence of cancer in tens of thousands of pesticide handlers (those with the most direct exposure to glyphosate) over the course of more than two decades, finding no evidence that glyphosate cause Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (see https://academic.oup.com/jnci/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djx233/4590280?searchresult=1).

    Instead, Carey Gillam emphasizes a handful of small studies of questionable scientific credibility from individuals with known conflicts of interest. For example, she references a UK study claiming a connection between glyphosate and fatty liver disease. What she does not mention is that data for this study is an extension of previous study that was retracted from a prominent journal because of multiple scientific issues, including flawed study design (and animal welfare violations). Both papers use the exact same animals and samples. Indeed, the authors even violated scientific publishing ethics when they republished the same histology image at different magnification, changing the labels. In the original paper it is labeled as coming from a male rat, while in the second publication it was labeled as being from a female rat (See https://pubpeer.com/publications/835197087F35E3F581470F92C38371).

    Instead of sound science, Carey Gillam offers us a conspiracy theory derived from misquoted court documents, while ignoring the very real conflicts of interest and scientific malpractice at the IARC and in the papers she cites. The IARC process, in contrast to the risk assessments done by the EFSA, BfR, and others, has until recently been hidden from view. However, it was recently shown that in the IARC monograph that listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, the IARC committee systematically changed the interpretation of the published studies they referenced, in one case even redoing a statistical analysis so as to change the conclusions to one supporting a claim of carcinogenicity (See https://www.reuters.com/article/us-who-iarc-glyphosate-specialreport/in-glyphosate-review-who-cancer-agency-edited-out-non-carcinogenic-findings-idUSKBN1CO251?utm_source=34553&utm_medium=partner). She further ignores the conflicts of interest of those involved in the IARC process, such as Chris Portier, who was himself being paid ~$160,000 by lawyers in a lawsuit against Monsanto at the time.

    That the science and facts surrounding this issue are so badly misrepresented by Carey Gillam is not surprising. She is a well-known anti-GMO activist with a history of writing articles that emphasize bad science and ignore contradicting data. She is employed by US Right To Know, an organization that’s primary efforts has been to attack the credibility of science, primarily through the harassment of academic scientist. To date, they have used the Freedom of Information Act to target dozens of public scientists in both the US and Canada, misrepresenting their work in the press, and targeting high-profile scientists involved in public education as part of a systematic smear campaign. They themselves are primarily funded by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a rabidly anti-science organization, well known for their anti-vaccine views, as well as other pseudoscience. In one instance, the OCA was involved in targeting Somali-American immigrant communities with their anti-vaccine views; an event that led to an outbreak of measles in this community in Minnesota (See https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/05/03/526723028/autism-fears-fueling-minnesotas-measles-outbreak).

    The readers of Undark deserve scientifically accurate articles. It is unfortunate that they saw fit to give space and voice to individuals who are in the business of misrepresenting science and pushing conspiracy theories upon the world.

    Reply

    Luckily 4 us your President has already tweeted about the dangers of Monsanto & then removed his tweet when Monsanto backed up a truck of money to finance his election. He also invented what your position is “Fake News” IMG_3388.JPG

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    I’m sorry, did you have anything of relevance to my post to actually say?

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    Illogical conclusions based on little evidence. Many basic facts about science are just wrong. Silent Spring this is not. Monsanto can be very shady, as can most corporations. It is a fallacy to assume that protecting profits immediately equals guilt. Ms. Gillam is a masterful wordsmith, able to tug at the heart string. But that doesn’t make her right.

    1. She uses the term “super weeds” to describe herbicide tolerant crops. No self respecting scientist uses this term. She chooses to ignore the non-GM crops that have caused these problems as well. Describing them like tall monsters only serves to spread fear.

    2. Herbicide tolerant crops were not the first GM crops on the market nor the first developed.

    3. All breeding methods involve labs and the introduction of traits not found in nature.

    4. She claims herbicide use has skyrocketed, when USDA data shows that pesticide levels have remained fairly level. Different herbicides are just being used.

    5. She quotes extreme activists like Rowlands and Honeycutt, whom scientists she uses in the book (like Benbrook and Hansen) are on record saying are so crazy actually harm the anti-GMO movement.

    6. I lost count of the amount of times she uses the word “douse” to describe farmers use of glyphosate. The amount needed to fill a can of soda is a typical application per acre.

    7. I also lost count of how many times she used the word “bully”, especially in making this about her own firing from Reuters. Making this more about her and her fellow activists. Even accusing independent pro GMO activists, like March Against Myths, of having industry ties. One of their leaders is a vegan activist who couldn’t be further from corporations if he tried.

    Her argument boils down to a massive conspiracy covering every major scientific organization and every government in the world based on 40 years of cherry picked emails. Selecting a few doubting scientists in the same way the oil and tobacco industries do only raises questions about her motives in writing this.

    And those motives are clear when you realize that she doesn’t disclose her own funding. Her organization is paid directly by the organic industry, and she is being flown around the world by class action lawyers trying to take advantage of cancer victims.

    Rachel Carson had science on her side. Gillam does not. All she has proven is that according to the IARC farmers may want to throw on some extra protection.

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    Nicely laid out talking points provided by hmmm…GLP or perhaps the “Let Nothing Go” campaign? Considering that you, Mr. Neidenbach are behind the I Love GMOs and Vaccines site,your assessments on Ms. Gillam lack total credibility,IMHO. I’m guessing your credentials match a veteran journalists?

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    I thought this comment sounded familiar, and then realized I’d just read it verbatim on an Amazon review of Carey Gillam’s book on this subject: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R216FM3JRKM2VB/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1610918320.

    Googling shows he’s posted it on Goodreads, too: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2191118847?book_show_action=true

    Stephan, why are you so invested in defending one company’s pesticide? What’s your stake in this?

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    One soda can per acre? Is that true? If so — WOW!!!!! When research has been done that found that at 1 ppt (Part per trillion) accelerated the growth of breast cancer cells and that at .1 ppm destroyed the gut bacteria of chicken — I would say that it is ONE SODA CAN TOO MUCH. And for those of you who are trying to figure out what ppt even means, it is the equivalent of 1 DROP in the water that would fill 22 Olympic size swimming pools. I am so sick of all of you trolls calling us fearmongers, when what we are doing is telling the truth. And in response to Mary Mangan’s post about taking tools away from farmers — they were all taken away when they switched to growing GMO mono crops. The microorganisms in the soil are destroyed, minerals needed to have healthy plants (and animals) were taken away by the chelating action of glyphosate — which is what is it supposed to do, since it was originally created to clean the mineral deposits in pipes and boilers. I really can’t believe anyone actually believes that this technology is actually beneficial. The ONLY thing it is beneficial for is the companies producing it and their shareholders.

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    We should be concerned of course about the chemicals we use and as a consumer and somebody raised on a farm where my family and I would have had and still have higher exposure than others, I am particularly concerned. When I was younger and contemplating taking over the farm, I did not understand these technologies and their effects and was drawn to organic farming thinking it was intuitively better for human health and the environment.

    That is a major reason I studied Agronomy (the science of crop production and soils) and then later plant genetics. When I took a serious look at the science and the evidence, my mind was changed and I had a better understanding of the risks and benefits.

    There is a very active misinformation machine that has mischaracterized the science, hyping up fear, unnecessarily for both well-meaning and profit-driven reasons and we should be careful to question these sources, just as we question scientists.

    Not all research is created equal and the devil is in the details. For example, its very easy to alter the behavior of cancer cells in cell culture. Cancer cells behave differently there. If killing cancer cells were as easy in humans as it is in cell culture, then we would have thousands of treatments and cancer would be cured. Sadly, its not so simple and it is very important not to extrapolate what was always meant to be a preliminary study design to quickly screen effects to interpreting this as biological reality. Just as many compounds kill cancer cells in a dish, many can also accelerate its growth. The real question is, what is the effect size or “how much acceleration” and under what conditions?

    In the particular study you are referring to (see here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23756170), the press-releases and subsequent media have really obscured the important details. For example, glyphosate had no effect on cancer lines not dependent upon hormones. While it did have an effect on cancer lines that were dependent upon estrogen, the effect was actually much less than that of estrogen itself. In other words, in order to see an effect, the authors had to deprive these cancer cells of the hormone they needed for growth, a hormone that your body produces, and only then did they see an effect and that this was less than the growth-promoting effect of the hormone itself. That’s an important caveat, because what it means is that this is probably an effect being driven by the study design. This sort of study can have relevance in trying to understand mechanisms, but it is useless in assessing risk to human health.

    That is one incidence, similar issues can be said about these other claims. In fact, some of the claims made regarding glyphosate are entirely made up and not based on any scientific evidence (like attempts to link it to autism, etc). For instance, there is no real evidence that glyphosate has killed soil bacteria. This result is under-reported, as the researchers are maize geneticists who were more interested in studying the effects of different maize varieties on soil microbiomes, but their study included both organic fields and those that are conventionally farmed and sprayed with pesticides. Their comparisons found no difference in species-richness between the two (see http://www.pnas.org/content/110/16/6548)

    We should be very careful to question sites that make very hyperbolic claims regarding threats to our health. Some of these individuals and organizations are well-meaning, others may be trying to use fear-based marketing.

    Instead, we should be looking to other types of studies, that directly assess health risks. For instance, large cohort studies like the Agriculture Health Survey that examine tens of thousands of individuals over decades who are at highest exposure and most risk. After more than two decades of tracking this group, no evidence of glyphosate causing cancer was found (see https://academic.oup.com/jnci/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djx233/4590280).

    At the end of the day, we all are concerned about our health and well-being, but this has to be guided by sound science.

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    Regardless of whether you are right and she is wrong or whether you are wrong all I can say is that, from personal experience, chemicals are a horrible way to go in land management. I used to use glyphosate to keep a long gravel drive weed free. My predecessor also used many chemicals to combats “pests” and weeds. For 10 years we have not used a single chemical in gardening (5 hectares) and the difference is dramatic. The return of insect life, bird life, toads, hedgehogs, etc is stunning. I used to be plagued by massive orange slugs – no more. Toads and hedgehogs have eliminated them The balance in the soil is wonderful. We also are surrounded by an organic farmer and his land is very healthy and profitable. You say only a soda can amount is used per acre. I say that is too much. One cannot get around the fact that glyphosate is a dangerous chemical and has entered the food chain. And even if one says “well…there is not 100% proof” I would say why would one want to even take the chance?

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    I’ll put my worm composted crops against your poison crops any day . Taste better, better 4 the environment & I don’t need compromised comments to cover up the safety of my product. Your worse then fake news, your fake opinions are a carcinogen to this planet !!!

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    This paragraph seems to indicate that Europe banned it, then backtracked and approved it??? I don’t live in Europe, but how does Parliament ban it, and then one month later the European Union member states approve it?

    The evidence of deception has resonated so strongly across the Atlantic that European Parliament voted October 23 in favor of a five-year phase-out with the chemical fully banned in 2022. But on November 27, the European Union member states backed a five-year re-authorization for the chemical after more than a year of deadlock and a refusal to sign off on a proposed 15-year approval.

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    Hey Scott. The license for the product run out, so the European Commission had to re-legalize it, but the discussion about glyphosate-containing herbicides has recently become incredibly heated, as it is obviously closely related to Monsanto (its developer but not sole manufacturor, the patent run out so other companies started producing herbicides with the same active agent). Until yesterday, it was unclear wether it would actually happen. Some member states changed their vote last minute though, most prominently Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel was very angry as she had agreed to dissent with the agricultural minister and the environmental minister. To make this less complicated: The agricultural minister decided to vote yes, a decision that has its roots in lobbying and is against the rules for political processes within the Government.
    The people of Europe have successfully shown strong opposition to several intended trade agreements (TTIP, CETA), that would have opened up the European Market to more GMOs, different and lower standards for meat production (mostly cattle and chicken) among other things. These recent outrageous developments, which were undemocratic and intransparent, caused movements like March Against Monsanto and Campact! to increase their efforts to fight for consumer’s safety. This caused the political decision to further allow Glyphosate to be used for a limited amount of time (5 years), hoping

    French documentary filmmaker Marie Monique Robin, chair of the committee of the internation Monsanto Tribunal directed a globally acclaimed documentary about Monsanto and Glyphosate, you can watch it here.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nNFmzAOtJI
    Please share it with as many people as you can. She interviewed people all over the world and shows a very detailed and eye-opening portrait of Monsanto as a company, it’s flagship product Glyphosate and the related business practices.

    Sorry for getting a bit carried away. People need to see this film. Please, please share it with as many people as you can.

    Reply

    It’s actually rather humorous to see the lengths people like “Mary” will go to in order to try to discredit honest information about the chemical industry’s billion-dollar baby. The only people ignoring the science are those people attacking the International Agency for Research on Cancer. And to say there is no evidence of harm associated with glyphosate and Roundup is to simply turn reality inside out. Monsanto and its chemical industry allies and friendly congressional leaders are intentionally ignoring years of independent research, published and peer-reviewed and evaluated by international cancer experts. The rest of us won’t hide the truth.

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    Sad,Mary is the perfect example of the “science” defender. Facts are facts as long as they go along with her industry sponsored agenda. Bringing up the vaccine issue just proves where her allegiance lies.

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    Carey, the scientific process demands that we look at all the evidence and weight it by its quality, not cherry-pick that which supports our pre-conceived notions.

    As I pointed out in my original post, you ignore the contradicting assessments of numerous independent scientific bodies. In contrast to the IARC, which does not actually assess risk, these organizations do assess the real risk posed to the public. Agencies, such as the European Food Safety Authority have directly addressed the claims made by the IARC (see https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/170523-efsa-statement-glyphosate.pdf). You ignore the conflicts of interest and highly suspect process of the IARC in coming to this conclusion (see https://www.reuters.com/article/us-who-iarc-glyphosate-specialreport/in-glyphosate-review-who-cancer-agency-edited-out-non-carcinogenic-findings-idUSKBN1CO251?utm_source=34553&utm_medium=partner). You ignore powerful large and long-term studies such as the Agricultural Health Survey that provide the strongest evidence to date regarding the non-carcinogenicity of glyphosate (see https://academic.oup.com/jnci/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djx233/4590280?searchresult=1). Meanwhile you seem completely unaware of the very problematic scientific (and ethical) issues surrounding the papers you cite (see https://pubpeer.com/publications/835197087F35E3F581470F92C38371).

    It is hard for one to claim to be for science or exposing the truth, when such glaring omissions appear in every one of your articles.

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    People like “Carey” are hilariously ignoring independent research, actually. Care to address why you did not include the studies that showed no evidence of glyphoste in breast milk, but did include the Moms Across America claims?

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    Mom’s Across America, home of the low carbon corn study, where organic maize is hotter than plutonium ! (I cross checked their figures for their energy output of ‘organic corn’ and the equivalent mass of plutonium. Their organic corn won!

    Carey, how can you quote anything from those yahoos?

    Fun Facts: I neither receive payments nor work for any biotech or chemical company. I do own close to 300 shares in DowDuPont, 0.0 shares in Monsanto, unfortunately.

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    If she published every Fake scientific study paid for by the chemical industry she would need 30 yrs to write this story. By then I’m sure someone you know would have died from cancer, since almost Everyone knows somebody that has died from cancer!

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    For those unfamiliar with the biotech industry’s PR push to obscure discussion and hide the money trail around GMO agriculture, please take a look at this op-ed Charles Seife and I wrote for the Los Angeles Times: Why it’s OK for taxpayers to ‘snoop’ on scientists http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0821-seife-thacker-science-transparency-20150821-story.html

    I followed this up with another piece, pointing out the importance of transparency in science, and how that is often done through investigative reporting and congressional oversight in The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/opinion/sunday/scientists-give-up-your-emails.html?_r=0

    Much of what we are learning about the ag industry’s PR tactics and the potential dangers of glyphosate are becoming public through the courts. This last summer, I reported on the ag industry’s “Let Nothing Go” program “a program in which individuals who appear to have no connection to the industry rapidly respond to negative social media posts regarding Monsanto, GMOs, and agrichemicals.” http://progressive.org/magazine/how-the-biotech-industry-cultivates-positive-media/

    Bloomberg journalists reported on that same program a few days later, and this should help explain some of the odd comments likely to appear here.

    Just a few weeks back, the lawyers suing Monsanto filed their Daubert brief that contained evidence of yet another study ghostwritten by Monsanto that was then laundered through the peer reviewed literature to create a scientific argument that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. Not all of this information is yet public, but we should expect more documents to come to light as these cases advance in federal and state courts. And expect more “Let Nothing Go” as well.

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    Mr. Thacker is 100% on the need for transparency in all of this. Monsanto has acted extremely shady in all of this. What the excellent journalist missed in this case though is that those opposing glyphosate are doing the same shady stuff. And before anyone jumps in with “BUT MONSANTO HAS MORE MONEY!”, do they really? They aren’t exactly the largest chemical company, and NGOs like Greenpeace have just as much to lose in membership dues.

    So where do we look to find out whether or not this herbicide should be banned? The science. So far the vast majority of organizations have declared that in comparison to other herbicides it is safe. The IARC has it listed as a probable carcinogen at the commercial farming level, which just means it is possible that farmers MIGHT want to consider not spraying it on themselves.

    There is zero evidence of anything beyond that. And even anti-glyphosate scientists like Charles Benbrook admit that banning it outright is a mistake. We would just see an immediate increase in the use of other herbicides like paraquat.

    Any ban on glyphosate would just be like putting a band aid on a broken leg. It wouldn’t actually fix any problem, and by not addressing the actual problem could make it worse.

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    #whataboutism

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    I think you misinterpret what “whataboutism” is. Its not giving an explanation afterwards. Its shutting down explanation and discussion. You saying “whataboutism” is just the new “fake news” or “shill” attempt to end the discussion on your terms.

    I’m inviting discussion. Point out what I said that was wrong. I flat out read her book to do just that. I’m actively telling other to read it to form their own opinion.

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    You sound just like the “real” scientists that helped the tobacco industry. I guess being a procancer corporate cronie does pay well? I hope your an atheist because plausible deniability doesn’t work for an all knowing & powerful god.

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    I, like Stephen agree that there should be greater transparency. The problem comes when that is abused, either to misrepresent and systematically smear public scientists who have done no wrong. There is also a major ethical issue when those who purport to be the agents of transparency, are not up-front about their own conflicts of interest and motives.

    At the end of the day, however, this is still a side-distraction. What matters here is the science. This is true for any number of issues, but in this instance, the question at hand is, “Does glyphosate pose a health risk?”

    Overwhelmingly, the evidence, including that from independent sources, shows that properly used, is a relatively safe and effective tool. It is not a carcinogenic risk, as has been shown by multiple safety organizations from around the world (https://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/170523-efsa-statement-glyphosate.pdf) and by independent studies such as the Agriculture Health Survey (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/study-finds-no-firm-link-between-chemical-in-popular-weedkiller-and-cancer/2017/11/10/1f8096c0-c578-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html?utm_term=.67d362d40782).

    If you want transparency, then we should be asking why these details are conveniently left out by Carey Gillam. Why Paul Thacker makes no mention of them, choosing to instead focus their attacks on supposed conspiracies and PR campaigns. These are distractions from the science. If we are tied down in debates and arguments over these conspiracies, then many people will ignore the only real thing that can answer the central question, that is the science.

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    Since Net Neutrality is about to get destroyed & soon all what we read will be your bought & paid for “science” , I guess it just safe for us to assume ALL petroleum based chemicals are carcinogenic & soon all web information is fake news. The wonderful thing about Trump is he has shown the true face of the Conservative movement, fake morals, fake science & false gods.

    Reply

    Paul Thacker is on his own personal conspiracy theory campaign, and keeps claiming that people are involved in some effort that he thinks exist–but he has zero evidence of that. This is the kind of fog that conspiracy theorists need to create to deflect attention from the fact that the science is not bearing out their wild claims that all disease comes from [X] where X = vaccines, glyphosate, fluoride, whatever. His insinuations about me are 100% baseless. He’s the Project Veritas of this arena. A clever name, but no there there.

    People like Thacker running these distraction games are causing real harm to science and policy. A great piece about that was just published in Texas Monthly here: https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/scientist-stop-measles-texas/ When you aim at your “pet” theory and attack the scientists who are trying to help you to understand the issues, it’s results in consequences. As noted over there: A great example of misinformation having consequences in 2 ways: poor decisions on the part of the fearful, and also mis-aiming at the wrong target diverts resources from the real issues.

    I will admit, though, that FOIA has revealed a lot of interesting things about the anti-glyphosate campaign. We know that Carey Gillam was working with the non-GMO industry folks while she was working at Reuters. We know that she worked closely with activists and her position at Reuters was a delicate situation, according to Claire Robinson of GMWatch. We know that crank researchers were eager to reach out to her right away for positive coverage as soon as their materials were ready. We have these emails.

    But mostly we know from Carey’s own work that that she is utterly dishonest in her presentation of her case about glyphosate. She cannot run away from that, it’s right there for anyone to see.

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    “Fake science”? Every time my neighbor sprays his crops bee’s fall dead all over my property! That’s real evidence, not your fake studies. My neighbors entire family has had issues with cancer. That’s REAL CANCER not fake cancer apparently your taking about! Good luck with your “Big Tobacco ” procancer propaganda campaign. I’m sure the children in hospitals drying of REAL cancer applaud your efforts!!! SMH

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    I personally know scientists that believe that glyphosate is harmless to human health.
    I personally know scientists that believe that glypohoste contributes to human health decline.
    I personally know scientists that believe that glyphosate use negatively impacts the surrounding ecosystem.
    I personally know scientists that won’t even utter the word “glyphosate” because it is an emotionally and scientifically charged word (aka ‘taboo’).
    I personally know scientists that are skeptical of most of the health related claims -both negative and lack of negative- of glyphosate.

    As a scientist, I am of the latter camp. There is too much deception to tease out the truth. Some independent studies with no conflict of interest have been squelched by the industry, lobbyists and scientists with connection to the former. ALL the studies should be considered as possible evidence, but any conflicts of interest should be examined and suspect, by supporting and opposing influences. That is a mountainous task. Where some studies are questioned, they should be replicated by an independent body of scientists with no association, no affiliation, no conflict of interest with industry and lobbying groups.

    Until credible evidence weighs in one way or the other, I remain a skeptic. On the other hand, as a field and former academic biologist, I do believe the claims of negative impact on ecosystems. It surrounds us. And it has the most accepted evidence in the entire controversy.

    Are humans exempt? I’m not so sure we are.

    Reply

    The reason that Carey had to focus on her extended conspiracy theory instead of “the question of safety” in her book and her testimony is because she ignores the science. This is unfortunate, and wrong, in the same way anti-vaxxers complain about Big Pharma instead of focusing on the facts of vaccines saving lives.

    Her book references the bogus glyphosate testing by warrior moms–same way as the anti-vaxxers focus on these moms with wild claims. She deliberately neglects to tell readers (and the EU policy makers) that the actual science by credible researchers with appropriate techniques showed there was no glyphosate in breast milk. These published articles are not cited.

    She talks about a lot of reading of Monsanto emails. Unfortunately, this seems to have meant she didn’t have time to read the National Academy of Science’s recent #GECropStudy on these issues. How anyone can publish a book–or testify to regulators–and ignoring the science in a 2 year long huge overview by a trusted scientific body–is baffling, really. She does not cite that major report at all in her testimony or book. This is irresponsible and dishonest.

    Maybe she can mine statements out of emails that sound dubious and nefarious. But she uses this as a fog to hide the fact that the science is not supporting her claims that the “true health and environmental calamity of modern-day biotech agriculture” is glyphosate, as she states boldly right in the beginning of her book. Shouldn’t you support that case with science instead of emails?

    Some would call that a Whitewash.

    Reply

    “Mary” is a well known Big GMO operative.
    Some would call that $hilling.

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    Yes, you and Paul are gonna make claims your evidence can’t cash about me. Of course. No surprise.

    I hope you’ll be sure to point out that Carey’s funding is from the organic industry, though. They aren’t letting anything go that might serve their marketing strategies that are aimed at consumers.

    Farmers are smart enough to choose products based on the facts. Consumers and politicians are much more malleable, aren’t they?

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    Ten cents a post – good job “Mary”

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    Care to address the science?

    Nope. You won’t. Just like Carey you’ll spread fog instead of facts. Very pathetic.

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    Right out of the Gillam book. Ignore the science, spread your conspiracy theory. Sorry–didn’t work in the EU, doesn’t work on me either.

    Mary the Shill: Yeah, it’s sad to see farmers who forgo pesticides and herbicides get greater yields than the poison-dousers. Vaccines save lives? since when? All vaccines do is spread disease and this has already been proven. The more vaccinated a population, the more prevalent the disease.
    Readers Digest in 1973 published a great article on whooping cough vaccine. The article summarized the results of the study: Those who received the initial shot and the boosters was almost 100% certain to get the disease (and show symptoms). Those who went unvaccinated were almost 100% guarenteed to NOT get the disease, and those partially immunized fell in the middle. Years later, the research proves this is a near universal truth regarding vaccines. There is no safe limit for mercury, yet mercury is used in vaccines. There is no safe level of aluminum injected into the bloodstream, yet aluminum is in the vaccines. Both are POTENT neurotoxins. Frankly, Mary, you are just a bald faced liar. There is no sugar coating it. This isn’t even debatable.
    The real irony here is that vaccinated populaces are carriers of the disease and spread it to the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. we would all be better off without vaccines.

    Reply

    Thank you for your baseless claims here–perfectly illustrating the Venn diagram of anti-science on this issue.

    Reply
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